» Posts Tagged ‘screenwriting’

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Richard Linklater Writing Boyhood 1Now that Richard Linklater’s film Boyhood has expanded to 771 screens across the U.S. and cracked the top 10 at the weekly box office, I had the opportunity to see this 12-year opus on its opening weekend here in Albuquerque. After watching this boy grow up on-screen in what feels like a blink of an eye — sometimes actually seeing him change dramatically in a quite literal blink of an eye over a cut — the screenwriter inside me wondered, “How do you write a movie that takes twelve years to shoot?” Here on No Film School, we’ve explored Linklater’s overall approach to filmmaking and screenwriting as well as his particular relationship with film and time via his Before trilogy (thanks, V Renée!). Now, thanks to many resources, we hear from Linklater himself on how he tackled the challenge of finding and writing the story of Boyhood over the course of its 12-year production. More »

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Menthol on Vimeo on Demand

Now that Menthol was finally released online last week, let’s check in with the release status and watch the 3rd part of our interview series with the makers of the film. This post will complete my 6-part series on releasing the film with a $0 marketing budget. With direct distribution I’ve learned that what appears to be the end of a long road usually leads to be the beginning of a new one, but for this post I’ve selected some big takeaways and put them together in a Direct-Distribution Lesson Roundup. Read on. More »

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Making Sense of CENTS Lessons Learned on Set of My First Feature Film 1
Here at No Film School, my posts focus on screenwriting. I can honestly say searching for lessons from professional screenwriters, sharing those lessons with NFS readers and adding my own take on those lessons has made me a better screenwriter since I started writing for this site back in May 2012. But, by far, my biggest learning experience as a screenwriter to date happened this summer when I had the privilege of shooting my first feature film, thanks in no small part to many NFS readers who supported our CENTS Kickstarter campaign. Now that principal photography is complete and we’re heading into post production, I’m excited to get back to NFS to share with you 5 lessons I learned on the set of my first feature film as writer, director and one of the producers. More »

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lightbulb_headThere is a common fallacy regarding creativity, mostly to be found among those who fancy themselves creative but never seem to complete any work. It goes back all the way to Plato, who said, and I’m really paraphrasing here, that unless you were a little touched in the head, you had no hope of real artistic genius. The idea that one must have a little madness in their soul to be truly creative is, in a sense, true, but if it’s not bulwarked and protected by an effective process, routine, and work ethic, your work is unlikely to live up to its potential. Check out this video, where filmmaker and Webby Awards founder Tiffany Shlain shares her 10 steps to creativity, and learn how routine can make you more creative. More »

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Andrew StantonIn filmmaking, there are no hard and fast rules that artists have to abide by, but one axiom always proves to be infallible: story is everything. And even though each and every one of our lives is essentially one great, big story, learning how to tell one isn’t as effortless as our lives seem to be. Here to give you some truly invaluable, practical advice on how to put together a narrative is Pixar writer/director Andrew Stanton (Toy Story, Finding Nemo, Wall-E), whose 2012 TED Talk not only sheds light on what makes a story great, but what tools you can use to make your story great by inspiring your audience to care. More »

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LoglineIn my experience, writing screenplays and loglines is a lot like algebra and geometry: people typically excel at one while struggling with the other. Penning a screenplay is hard enough, but writing loglines can be difficult, because you have to strip your story down to its most essential parts, while still telling it in its entirety — you’re not given the luxury of playing the long game. If you’re like me and struggle with writing up loglines, this Script Lab video explains in simple terms just how to do it. More »

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Menthol Release on August 4th

Menthol is finally done playing film festivals and we’re in the clear to release online. It’s been a long road getting to this point, navigating various distribution strategies and seeing what we can implement with a $0 marketing spend. Menthol will finally enjoy its online release today, August 4th through Vimeo on Demand and Reelhouse. To whet your appetite for the film, here’s the next installment in the Behind the Story interview series and some words on what we’ve learned. More »

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MartyWhat is story? What is plot? What is the sound of one hand clapping? Who knows? While story and plot might seem, at first, to be synonymous, in fact they are two different things entirely, and if you’re a beginning screenwriter or filmmaker, it can be tough to sift through all of the contradictory information that’s out there in the ten billion screenwriting books to figure out which is which and why. It’s a tricky question, but never fear, because that cinephile unrivaled, Martin Scorsese, is here to straighten matters out. In this video, he breaks down the difference, and we give some helpful (hopefully) background info to help you create your next masterpiece. More »

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Hulu SFSThere are so many ways to go about learning how to make films, with resources that won’t cost you tens of thousands of dollars or have you sitting in lecture halls for the greater part of your early 20s. One ironclad piece of advice that always seems to be in the mouths and repertoires of great filmmakers is to watch and study films, because they can offer invaluable guidance, inspiration, and even mentorship to those who are looking for it. And if you’ve decided that this summer will be the one in which you buckle down for some serious cinematic cogitation, Hulu’s Summer Film School, which is a series of blog posts that break down the filmmaking techniques of some of history’s greatest films, might be right up your alley. More »

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199742.tif99% of everything ever written in the history of the world was written by hand, but today, almost every word starts its life on a screen. This is even truer in the case of screenplays, where programs like Final Draft make quick work of complex margins. And with penmanship becoming a dying art and decades of talk about “the paperless office,” there is no denying we are definitely heading towards a society where paper communication is a thing of the past, even if that day is decades away. Yet there are demonstrable benefits to writing longhand, and if you find yourself in a writing rut, or are just looking for a new way to look at things, then a pen (or maybe even a typewriter) might be just what you’re looking for. More »

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The Ludvico TechniqueStory is, at its core, a metaphor for how to live. We live vicariously through the characters we see on the page or the screen. So it follows that if you’re creating characters, they should be as real as possible. That is, of course, easier said than done, and a weak or unbelievable character can kill a screenplay or movie regardless of the plot (experimental film excepted). So what can be done? For writers, an understanding of psychology and human nature are vital in order to see people as they are, making it possible to make up people who are more like people than like characters. More »

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Mac-App-Store-Explore-Your-Creativity-Screenwriting-Promotion-croppedApple is running an Explore Your Creativity promotion in the Mac App Store. That means for a limited time, you can buy several screenwriting apps at 50% off their regular prices. If you’re looking for more minimalist screenwriting tools, now would be the time to check out Highland or Slugline. If you’ve wanted to pick up Final Draft 9, but stayed away because of the sticker shock, 50% off may be the right price for you. You can even pick up Scrivener at half off. The Explore Your Creativity promotion in the Mac App Store is only for a limited time, though, and Apple is playing coy with the deadline. More »

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screencraftToday, ScreenCraft announced that they are now taking entries into the 2014 Action & Thriller Script Contest, which will feature cash prizes (that they’ve doubled since last year), as well as a venerable panel of top industry judges, including executives from Paramount, Fox, Warner Brothers, and more. So, if you have a script that fits into the action/thriller genre and you want to compete for the chance to get it in front of some real movers and shakers, then we’ve got the details on how to enter. More »

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Mike WhiteWhat does screenwriting look like? Waking up at 6am, pouring a cup of coffee — black, sitting down at a desk with last night’s Chinese take out strewn about, turning on your computer, going over notes, and finally, typing away for hours and hours until you remember that humans need food and sleep to survive. Now, raise your hand if that’s what screenwriting looks like in your own life. If you didn’t raise yours, you wouldn’t be the only one. In fact, screenwriter Mike White (Nacho LibreSchool of Rock, Orange County) details what the whole process entails for him, which actually includes a whole lot of not writing a screenplay. More »

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unproduced-screenplaysIn the 80s, the joke was that everyone, no matter what they did during the day, had a screenplay to hawk. With Joe Eszterhas getting millions for scribbling the plot of One Night Stand on a cocktail napkin, and Shane Black writing Lethal Weapon at the age of 26, what didn’t look like hard work looked good to lots of people. Much of this can be laid at the feet of one Syd Field, whose Screenplay took thousands of years of dramaturgical what have you and condensed it into a friendly set of easy-to-follow rules that helped spark the screenplay goldrush of the 80s. Yet the number of working Hollywood screenwriters stays the same, roughly, from year to year. So what, then is the secret? Is there even a secret? You’ll have to read until the end to find out. (Suspense!) More »

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walterwhite_tonysopranoA few months ago, I wrote a post called The Story of Story, which attempted to explain, in as simple a way as the subject can bear, the roots of narrative structure, and specifically, how these roots were planted several thousand years ago, in ancient Greece, and have been passed down through the works of Aristotle. Today, I’ll begin with a sort of riddle: what do David Chase, creator of The Sopranos, and Vince Gilligan, the mad genius behind Breaking Bad, have in common? That’s easy enough, you say. Well, then, what if I asked how they differed? It’s not an impossible riddle, but its answer just might be the key to the next story hurdle you have to surmount. And it might be closer than you think. More »

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Screenwriting 1Writing processes are as diverse as the writers who labor through them. There’s really no one way to churn out a script, but if you’ve just started on this incredible screenwriting journey, or are in a rut and looking for some new tools to help you become more productive, then Oscar-winning screenwriter Dustin Lance Black (MilkJ. Edgar) might be able to help. In this Academy Originals video, Black details every step of his creative process, from how he goes about researching to how he lays out scenes written on a myriad of index cards. More »

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ScreencraftIf you’re interested in getting some exposure in TV writing, you might want to look into ScreenCraft’s Pilot Launch TV Script Contest. They are now accepting submissions for hour, half hour, webisode and non-traditional comedy and drama series pilots, which will be judged by executives, screenwriters, and consultants from NBC, HBO, and Funny or Die (just to name a few). The early deadline is coming up, so find out how to enter before time runs out. More »

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TypewriterA screenplay is made up of a lot of different pieces: acts, sequences, scenes, etc. Think of them as multi-sized blocks that you must stack, tear down, rearrange, and throw away until what you have before you looks something like a story. But before you can enjoy the tedious task of formation, you have to create these pieces, or blocks, from scratch. To help with this, screenwriter and frequent Tim Burton collaborator, John August (Big Fish, Corpse Bride), whose blog you should be reading religiously, released a handy infographic/PDF of his popular post “How to Write a Scene” that gives screenwriters an easy checklist of 11 bullet points that helps guide them through the process. More »

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Rian Johnson Brick Script to Screen Austin Film Festival
If you saw the Internet in passing last week, you just might have caught wind of a small story about Rian Johnson joining a modestly successful sci-fi franchise to write and direct a future episode. For his sake, I certainly hope the first movie in the announced trilogy doesn’t tank, or Johnson may be out of a job. As I read that story, I was reminded of the Austin Film Festival Script-to-Screen panel I moderated with Johnson this past October to discuss his first feature film, the high school film noir Brick. Now only days away from principal photography on my first feature film, this feels like the perfect time to revisit our conversation to learn from Johnson and his experiences making this original take on the film noir genre. More »